Wednesday, December 5, 2012

New radio telescope to provide advance warnings of potentially damaging solar flares

 The newly inaugurated Murchison Widefield Array (MWA) telescope will act as an early warni...
After a long eight-year wait, the building of Australia's Murchison Widefield Array (MWA) telescope has finally reached completion. The radio telescope's first major task will be to investigate the Sun to provide earlier warnings of solar storms that, if left unchecked, could fry satellites and power grids across the globe. The telescope will also be sued to scout the sky for the earliest, most distant galaxies ever detected in an attempt to resolve unanswered questions on the origins of the Universe.

Every once in a while, a massive flow of electrons and other accelerated particles collide with the Sun's plasma. When that happens, a solar flare is born, causing a giant electromagnetic pulse that can spell trouble for us Earthlings. Back in 1989, a solar flare cut power to six million Canadian citizens. And now, reports warn us, the Sun is due to re-enter peak activity in 2013, which the International Centre for Radio Astronomy Research (ICRAR) says has the potential to cause up to US$2 trillion in damage to power supply and communications networks.Read more:

Read more:

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Smart Meters Help Utility Speed Sandy Restoration

As power utilities work to restore electricity service to millions of people in the wake of Hurricane Sandy, at least one utility has found its investment in smart meters is making a difference.

Pepco, which serves Washington D.C. and parts of Maryland, is using these two-way meters to automatically locate where power outages on its network occurred. Once power is restored, the utility can also ping meters to verify service, rather than send out a crew or make a phone call, according to a Pepco representative.

The widespread disruption to electricity and natural gas service from Sandy raises questions over whether smart grid technologies, such as two-way meters and advanced switches to automatically reroute power, could make the grid more resilient.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

'Frozen air' could heat up renewable energy

The journey to a cooler, greener planet may start with a breath of fresh air, suggests a battery technology under development that could rapidly solve one of the biggest problems with wind and solar energy.
 The air we breathe is about 78 percent nitrogen, a gas that turns to liquid at -321 degrees Fahrenheit.

The technology from Highview Power Storage in the United Kingdom involves extracting carbon dioxide and water vapor from the air, chilling the nitrogen to its liquid state and storing it in a giant vacuum flask.
Then, when energy is needed, the liquid is warmed to ambient temperature. As it transition to the gas phase, it expands about 700 times, generating force to drive a turbine that generates electricity.

Wind and solar power are used to suck air into compressors, purify it and freeze it, which gets us over the hurdle of the intermittentcy problem of the renewable energy.

Read full article:

Thursday, September 27, 2012

America's Biggest Energy Thieves

vAmpere: JCPB's own super villain
Every day we walk past energy vampires, sucking away on our power supply, and most of us don't even know it. Cars left running or huge buildings with their lights glowing all night are obvious wasteful consumers of energy, but many times it is actually smaller and less noticeable power consumers that are - when aggregated across hundreds of millions of homes and offices - adding significant strain onto the US power production and transmission system at a time when blackouts are creating real concerns for companies relying on constant power supply.

Read more:

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Preparing Your Home for Winter

The fall Equinox is a good time of year to start thinking about preparing your home for winter, because as temperatures begin to dip, your home will require maintenance to keep it in tip-top shape through the winter.
Autumn is invariably a prelude to falling winter temperatures, regardless of where you live. It might rain or snow or, as David Letterman says, "Fall is my favorite season in Los Angeles, watching the birds change color and fall from the trees."

Did you know there is only one state in the United States where the temperatures have never dipped below zero? Give up? It's Hawaii.

Here are ten tips to help you prepare your home for winter:

Read full article:

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

ORNL roof-and-attic system keeps houses cool in summer, warm in winter

The new roof system includes controls for radiation, convection and insulation, and a pass...
Heating and cooling a house are two of the biggest ongoing costs for homeowners and are responsible for the bulk of the average household’s energy consumption. A new kind of roof-and-attic system field tested at the DoE’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) improves the efficiency of both winter heating and summer cooling. Importantly, the new system can be retrofitted to most existing roofs.

Read More:

Thursday, August 30, 2012

EPRI calculates annual cost of charging an iPad at $1.36

Consumers who fully charge their iPad tablet every other day can expect to pay $1.36 for the electricity needed annually to power the device, according to an assessment by the Electric Power Research Institute.

The analysis shows that each model of the iPad consumes less than 12 kWh of electricity over the course of a year, based on a full charge every other day. By comparison, a plasma 42" television consumes 358 kWh a year. EPRI conducted the analysis in Knoxville, Tenn., at its power utilization laboratory. Costs may vary depending on the price of electricity in a particular location, EPRI noted.

Read more:

Thursday, August 23, 2012

For energy efficiency, replace your windows last


When most people think about energy efficiency, once they stop talking about solar panels, they usually get to windows.  “My windows are so old,” or “They’re only single pane glass,” or “I need to replace them,” and so on, much if it fueled by the replacement window industry selling the energy savings. Unfortunately, in most cases, those savings just aren’t there, at least not at the level at which they sell them.

There’s a joke about window replacement that goes something like this: After her windows were replaced, a woman had yet to pay the bills she kept getting from the contractor who did the work. Finally, a year later, the contractor got her on the phone and asked her why she had not paid for them. Her response: “Do you think I’m stupid? Your salesman told me that in one year the windows would pay for themselves. It’s been a year!”

Thursday, August 9, 2012

After the storm: Floodwater safety

Flooding forces homeowners to ask many difficult questions about water-damaged electrical equipment in their houses: Can I use appliances after they dry out? Are circuit breakers and fuses safe to use? Will I need to replace my electrical wiring?

Floodwater contaminants can create serious fire hazards if electrical wiring and equipment have been submerged in water. Even with professional cleaning and drying, sediments and toxins are difficult to remove.

As families begin to clean up after a flood, there may be hidden electrical hazards. This is not a do-it-yourself project! Before beginning, have a qualified electrician check the house wiring, assess other damages and proceed with repair work. Then, follow these important safety tips:

Read More:

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Nationwide Scam Hits Home

Please review this previous post about a scam that recently targeted a JCPB customer:

Thanks to our friends at the American Public Power Association (APPA) for reporting on a multi-state scam that has targeted utility customers across the country. The scam aims to steal payments and identity information using in-person solicitations, social media, fliers, phone calls and text messages. Victims have been reported in states such as California, Illinois, Tennessee, Texas and Florida.

Nationwide scam targets utility customers

Thursday, July 19, 2012

What's the Best Way to Report an Outage and Why?

The Johnson City Power Board (JCPB) encourages customers to report power outages through its automated phone attendant by calling (423) 282-JCPB (5272). Reporting outages in this manner offers customers the opportunity to take full advantage of JCPB’s outage management system (OMS).

The purpose of the OMS is to facilitate rapid deployment of resources during an outage event by linking incoming outage reports with outgoing service orders and mapping data. The OMS is most effective when it functions as a fully automated system that informs JCPB dispatchers on where to focus restoration efforts without the need to speak with affected customers directly.

It is essential that JCPB customers’ phone numbers are kept up to date. This will enable the OMS to quickly identify customers and their associated service addresses as they call in thus expediting JCPB’s reporting/dispatching processes. When used to its full potential, the OMS streamlines the outage reporting process making it simple, fast, and convenient for JCPB customers and employees alike. 

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Portable Electric Generator Safety Tips

    In an emergency, portable electric generators offer lifesaving benefits when outages affect your home or business. They can safely power important electrical equipment such as portable heating units, computers, water pumps, freezers, refrigerators and lighting. However, portable generator use can also be very hazardous. If you plan on using an emergency generator, it’s essential that you take precautions for your safety and the safety of those working to restore power.

The most effective way to avoid portable generator mishaps is to make sure you fully understand the proper operating procedures. Read and follow the manufacturer’s guidelines before operating or maintaining your generator – and don’t forget to use common sense.

Follow these tips for safe portable generator use:
  • Always read and follow the manufacturer's operating instructions before running generator
  • Engines emit carbon monoxide. Never use a generator inside your home, garage, crawl space, or other enclosed areas. Fatal fumes can build up, that neither a fan nor open doors and windows can provide enough fresh air.
  • Only use your generator outdoors, away from open windows, vents, or doors.
  • Use a battery-powered carbon monoxide detector in the area you’re running a generator.
  • Gasoline and its vapors are extremely flammable. Allow the generator engine to cool at least 2 minutes before refueling and always use fresh gasoline. If you do not plan to use your generator in 30 days, don’t forget to stabilize the gas with fuel stabilizer.
  • Maintain your generator according to the manufacturer’s maintenance schedule for peak performance and safety.
  • Never operate the generator near combustible materials.
  • If you have to use extension cords, be sure they are of the grounded type and are rated for the application. Coiled cords can get extremely hot; always uncoil cords and lay them in flat open locations.
  • Never plug your generator directly into your home outlet. If you are connecting a generator into your home electrical system, have a qualified electrician install a Power Transfer Switch.
  • Generators produce powerful voltage - Never operate under wet conditions. Take precautions to protect your generator from exposure to rain and snow.

Friday, June 29, 2012

High heat raises power usage, cost could follow

By MADISON MATHEWS    Johnson City Press Staff Writer 

With temperatures expected to reach the upper 90s, many people are going to be running air conditioners and fans all weekend in an attempt to stay cool.     

That means power usage and the price of one’s electric bill could rise.    

The Johnson City Power Board’s peak usage is typically seen during the winter months, according to Chief Public Relations Officer Robert White.     

The Tennessee Valley Authority, which acts as the Power Board’s electric distributor, is a summer peak system, White said.    

The Power Board’s peak usage for the winter months has been set at 550 megawatts, while the summer peak currently sits at 502 megawatts.     

While those figures are fairly close, White said there’s a chance usage could reach the winter peak if temperatures rise as much as they’re expected to.     

“We’re becoming a much more balanced system in regard to winter and summer peaks, but you never know. Depending on how hot it gets, we may actually get to that and match our winter peak,” he said.     

Despite a rise in usage during high-temperature months, White said it shouldn’t put any additional strain on the grid, meaning the potential for an outage is unlikely.     

“We are prepared. We have the capacity in our substations, well above even if we get close to our winter peak,” he said.    

The Power Board currently does not charge its residential customers based on usage during peak times, so the June energy rate of 9.284 cents per kilowatt hour will not fluctuate while temperatures begin to rise this weekend. That rate includes fuel cost adjustment.     

A seasonal time of use for residential customers will go into effect in October.     

There are, however, several things customers can do in order to keep their usage down during peak times. One of the best ways to conserve energy and keep costs down is by keeping the thermostat set somewhere in between 76 and 80 degrees.    

“If they can tolerate 76 to 80 degrees on that thermostat, especially during these times, and wear loose clothes ... it’ll keep you from having to turn it down so much,” White said.     

Other ways to keep cool are by keeping the blinds closed and curtains down. Small things like that are easy ways to better utilize one’s cooling system.    

For those customers who have a heat pump, White suggested making sure all doors inside the home are kept open in order to maximize the efficiency of one’s system.     

The Power Board serves 75,927 customers in Washington County and parts of Carter, Greene and Sullivan counties. 

Here Comes the Heat


Johnson City Press Staff Writer  

The next few days could be the hottest seen in the Tri-Cities since the 1950s. But there are ways to stay safe in the extreme heat. The expected temperature for Thursday will be 93 degrees, Friday will be 97 and Saturday temperatures are expected to reach 98. The record temperature for Thursday is 96, Friday 95, Saturday 95 and Sunday 98. All of those records were set in the 1950s. 

According to the National Weather Service, a strong high pressure over the middle of the country will build over the Tennessee Valley by the end of the week. This high will produce almost record high temperatures for Thursday through Sunday. The thermometer is expected to reach 100 degrees or more in Knoxville and Chattanooga.     

Moisture will also increase in the region in the next few days. There is a 20 percent chance of rain on Saturday. The combination of the heat and humidity will create oppressive heat indexes.     
The National Weather Service advises people to try to stay out of the heat.     

If you have to be out in the heat, there are some tips on keeping yourself safe in the extreme heat.    
“The main thing is to wear light clothing and stay hydrated,” said Medical director of First Assist Urgent Care, Dr. Tim Schwob. “Just do whatever you can to keep the heat off of you. Try to get in the shade and get out of the heat.”    

The two most common types of illnesses associated with extreme heat are heat exhaustion and heat stroke.    According to the Centers for Disease Control’s website, symptoms of heat exhaustion include sweating heavily, paleness, muscle cramps, tiredness, weakness, dizziness, headache, nausea or vomiting and fainting. People suffering from heat exhaustion will still have a relatively normal body temperature and will still think clearly, Schwob said.    

When people suffer from heat exhaustion, they just need to hydrate and get out of the heat, Schwob said.    The more serious illness is heat stroke. Symptoms of heat stroke include an extremely high body temperature (above 103 degrees) red, hot, and dry skin (no sweating), rapid, strong pulse, throbbing headache, dizziness, nausea, confusion and unconsciousness, according to the CDC.    

If you notice any of these symptoms or notice someone having them, try to hydrate them and cool them down. Then, call a doctor.     

Some more tips for beating the heat include not drinking alcohol or caffeine in the heat, because the two can cause significant loss of water. Also avoid really cold drinks, because they could cause stomach cramps.    Drink lots of water, even if you’re not thirsty. Stay indoors in air conditioning if at all possible. If you don’t have air conditioning, try to go to a place that has air conditioning, such as a library or a mall. Never leave anyone in a closed, parked car.     

If you have to be out in the heat, try to limit your time outside to morning and evening hours. Cut down on exercise, but if you do exercise consume two to four glasses of cool water every hour. Try to rest in the shade often and wear sunglasses, hats and sunscreen SPF 15 or higher, according to the CDC.    
Since some people will be spending a majority of the time indoors running the air conditioning or fans, there are ways to keep your electric bill down and save energy.     

“Try to set your thermostat between 76 and 80 degrees,” said Robert White, Johnson City Power Board spokesman. “Keep your curtains and blinds shut, so as not to allow direct sunlight into your home.”    
Again, wear light, loose clothing, even inside your home.     

Some more tips are to always keep your vents free from obstruction and keep all external doors and windows closed so energy does not escape from the home. If you are using window air conditioning units, try to place them on the north side of your home.     

The population most at risk for suffering from a heat related illness are people 65 and older, infants or young children, people who have mental illness or those who are physically ill, especially those with heart disease or high blood pressure, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s website.

TVA Offers Energy-Saving Tips To Beat Summer Heat

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — With 100-degree temperatures expected this week, the Tennessee Valley Authority is encouraging consumers to use electricity wisely and efficiently. Consumers can save energy, lower the impact on their power bills and reduce peak demand on the TVA system by simply increasing thermostat temperatures a few degrees during the day, turning off unnecessary lights and appliances and operating dishwashers and laundry machines at night and only with full loads.

Read more:

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Cool Your House in the Summer with Ceiling Fans and Energy Efficient Light Bulbs

While Americans can expect record hot weather this summer, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, there are ways to cool down your home when the temperature rises. Here are some tips to get you started.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Americans support energy-saving, but don't do it

Cindy Shriner, a retired teacher, poses for a portrait with her 2009 Subaru Impreza in Lafayette, Ind., Saturday, June 9, 2012. Shriner buys energy-efficient light bulbs and her car gets nearly 30 miles per gallon on the highway. Still, she keeps her house at about 73 degrees year-round, despite government recommendations to turn thermostats to 68 degrees in winter and 78 degrees in summer. 'I'm terrible,' Shriner, 60, said in an interview. 'In all honesty we have extreme weather in all seasons' in Indiana, she said, and her thermostat settings keep her comfortable. A new poll shows that while most of those questioned understand effective ways to save energy, they have a hard time adopting them. (AP Photo/AJ Mast)
Cindy Shriner, a retired teacher, poses for a portrait with her 2009 Subaru Impreza in Lafayette, Ind., Saturday, June 9, 2012. Shriner buys energy-efficient light bulbs and her car gets nearly 30 miles per gallon on the highway. Still, she keeps her house at about 73 degrees year-round, despite government recommendations to turn thermostats to 68 degrees in winter and 78 degrees in summer. "I'm terrible," Shriner, 60, said in an interview. "In all honesty we have extreme weather in all seasons" in Indiana, she said, and her thermostat settings keep her comfortable. A new poll shows that while most of those questioned understand effective ways to save energy, they have a hard time adopting them. (AP Photo/AJ Mast)

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Nationwide Scam Targets Utility Customers

Thanks to our friends at the American Public Power Association (APPA) for reporting on a multi-state scam that has targeted utility customers across the country. The scam aims to steal payments and identity information using in-person solicitations, social media, fliers, phone calls and text messages. Victims have been reported in states such as California, Illinois, Tennessee, Texas and Florida.

Nationwide scam targets utility customers

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Clean Energy Standard Would Raise Price of Electricity, Head of JA Tells Senate Panel

This is another very interesting article we found from our fine friends at the American Public Power Association (APPA). Is the outlook for green energy sunny? It looks like the answer to that question may depend largely on where you live and work. Take a look to gain insight on what the potential economic impacts of clean energy could mean for your bottom line.

Clean energy standard would raise price of electricity, head of JEA tells Senate panel

Americans Have Low Tolerance for Power Outages, Survey Finds

While the results of the survey referenced in this article we found from the American Public Power Association (APPA) are less than earth shattering, it is interesting to see how Americans' tolerance for life without electricity translates into numbers. This is especially true as the conversation shifts to how much those surveyed would be willing to pay to ensure that outages be kept to a minimum. The article is a great validation for Johnson City Power Board's performance as our rates remain among some of the lowest in the nation while our system reliability is among the highest. Read the article for yourself and consider how much our service is really worth to you, your work, and your family.

Americans have low tolerance for power outages, survey finds

Thursday, May 17, 2012

May is National Electrical Safety Month

May is a month set aside for promoting awareness of electrical safety issues. Electricity has become an essential part of nearly everyone's day to day activities making knowledge of its dangers increasingly important. Here are some great materials produced by ESFi (Electrical Safety Foundation International) to help you and your loved ones get better acquainted with several key issues. Be safe!

Select this link to go to's Newsroom and open "Electrical Safety Month Resources" in the News Releases section.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

A New Spin On Plugging In

Do you ever wish you could shed some extra weight?  What about lowering your energy costs? Well, now you can eat your cake and umm.... spend it too. Check out this sleek solution to converting calories into kilowatts.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Will Cities Defect from IOUs?

This article takes an in depth look into a trend of US communities that are breaking away from investor owned utilities (IOU) in order to run their own municipal systems. The article offers a detailed review of the motivations behind these endeavors while providing a number of interesting insights and links to additional resources.
Will cities defect from IOUs?

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

On Facebook, Some Friendly Energy Rivalry

Here is a great example of how social media and new technologies are changing people's habits for the better (for once). What better way to make a difference than through a little friendly competition?

New York Times: On Facebook, Some Friendly Energy Rivalry

Monday, March 26, 2012

The Ultimate Guide to Making Any Rental More Energy Efficient

Think that because you don't own, you have no control over your home's energy use? Not true! Here's's

ultimate guide; full of links to quick, easy and yes, even inexpensive, ways to reduce your carbon footprint and lower your bills (your landlord will thank you!).

Most of these changes are likely to pay for themselves in energy savings over the duration of your rental. Also, don't forget that once you move, you can either leave the improvements intact and sell them to the future tenants, or take them with you to your next home.